They allowed opponents to run wild over them to the tune of 135 yards per game on the ground, surrendering 400 points for the fifth time in franchise history and the third time during Fewell's seven-year tenure.
New York Giants Defense
But, with the NFL Draft just two weeks away, the Giants are still without solid answers at the safety position. Their roster still lists only two players as safeties - Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor - neither of whom has started an NFL game.
Both players were taken in the fifth round in the NFL Draft. Taylor, a 2013 pick, missed all of 2014 with a foot injury. Berhe, selected last season, served as mainly a special teams player.
Just finished reading a column on the Giants' needs in the upcoming draft (Rotoworld, Mar 25). Our colleagues John Norris and Evan Silva not only go through the team's needs but who specifically the Giants might target.
The needs are no surprise: safety, offensive line and defensive end. The Giants are light at safety and have mildly addressed the other two positions in free agency.
They surrendered 400 points for only the fifth time in franchise history and finished 29th in the league in points allowed.
They have finished 27th or higher in that category three of the past four years under DC Perry Fewell.
It's hard to bash a defense after a game in which they only allowed 13 points, and only three in the second half. So, we'll go easy on them, even though the Redskins met them halfway with poor execution and lack of composure.
The Redskins actually led this game, 10-7, at the half and it could have been 17-7 had the RGIII TD run not been reversed. The reversal of the call was the correct one, negating the TD as Griffin did not possess the ball all the way to the ground in the end zone after lacking possession over the goal line, and the Giants dodged a huge bullet. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after the play by Washington moved the second half kickoff to the Washington 35. The Giants cashed in on an onside kick to open the half and never looked back.
Playing against an offense that was missing it's starting offensive tackles and wide receivers has it's benefits. Throw in a rookie QB with a sprained shoulder and a struggling rushing game, and your defense better throw a shutout, or damn near one. The Giants took full advantage of the Titans, allowing no points. The closest Tennessee offense came to scoring was in the second quarter when they drove to the Giants' 24 on a 13-play drive that ended with PK Ryan Succop missing a 42-yard FG attempt.
After taking the lead 24-22 with 3:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, they allowed one of the league's worst offenses to drive 55 yards on eleven plays to kick the game-winnng, 43-yard FG with 0:28 left on the clock. Not only did the Giants defense fail in the clutch again, the Jaguars committed two possibly drive-killing penalties that they were able to overcome to keep the drive alive. In addition, the Giants allowed Bortles, who runs about as well as my postman (who is 55 and a heavy smoker) to scramble for 68 yards on five attempts.
Disgraceful is what comes to mind. No way were they tired, having only played 25 minutes and 68 snaps. Just inept and disorganized. DC Perry Fewell is long past his shelf life here. The Giants played a laid-back style that bit them hard in this game. All of the Jaguars' top gains came on either 1st and 10 or 2nd and long. And, again, they gave and the Jags took.
I understand they play with heart and effort and are probably overachieving even if they are one of the worst defenses statistically in the league. The way the Cowboys whisked through them to score the winning TD in the final minutes was perhaps one of the worst attempts to hold a lead I've seen in quite some time.
Overall Grade: D
Overview: The Giants defense entered the game having surrendered?at least 423 yards in each of their previous four games. They held the 49ers to just 333 yards on Sunday and the 16 points they allowed were the fewest in a loss since?Oct. 16, 2005, when they lost in overtime to Dallas, 16-13.
San Francisco was able to run the ball on the Giants, but to the success that many had thought. They rushed on 37 of their 66 offensive plays for a total of 148 yards. ?RB Frank Gore had a 17-yarder and QB Colin Kaepernick ripped off a 16-yarder but the Giants held them to 4.0 YPC, a solid performance overall.
"Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch rushed for 140 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in the Seahawks? 38-17 victory over the Giants at CenturyLink Field on Sunday and QB Russell Wilson passed for 172 yards and added another 107 rushing yards and another TD. The Seahawks are the first team in NFL history to have a running back rush for at least four touchdowns and a quarterback with more than 100 rushing yards in the same game," NFL Media noted.
That's right, in NFL history. That's how bad the Giants' defense was yesterday. Here's more...
Overall: The Giants were overmatched in this game from the outset. If not for the uncharacteristic and drastic change in the defensive game plan by DC Perry Fewell, they would have been blown out by halftime. Instead, the initiative to get pressure on Indy QB Andrew Luck worked, holding the Colts to 16 first half points. But after halftime, the wheels came flying off. ?Indianapolis scored 21 points to the Giants seven and by 4:31 of the third quarter, held a 37-10 insurmountable lead over the home team.
Fewell tried everything to stop Luck and his defensive front could not be blamed for a lack of effort. Giant defenders hit Luck a total of 11 times, sacking him once, and disrupted his rhythm all game. But against this great young player and his talented weapons, if just wasn't enough. They surrendered 40 points and the Colts could have scored a lot more. They took the fourth quarter off. ?On the injury front, they lost CB Prince Amukamara for the season with a torn bicep in the first half. It just doesn't end for this team.
"We are working him. It depends on how he feels," DC Perry Fewell told reporters Friday. "Sometimes he is really good, when I say good he has been good back to back practices so we will see tomorrow if he tightens up, stiffens up, what have you. That is how we kind of approach it ? it is a day-to-day kind of assessment with him."
Should Cromartie not be able to play, or is severely limited, the Giants will have to hope that Prince Amukamara, Zach Bowman and Jayron Hosley can keep up with the speedy and productive Colts wideouts. Their backup corners right now are Chandler Fenner and the newly-signed Mike Harris.
It works most of the time. Last year, the Giants lined up against almost all of the NFL's top rushing offense and played stout to the point where they were able to win seven of their last ten games. This season, they have not been as effective vs the run and it has been costly.
In 2013, the Giants allowed 3.8 YPC and 108.9 YPG on the ground as opposed to 4.4 YPC and 122 YPG this season. They allowed just 12 rushing TDs in 2013. They have already given up eight this season.
In a nutshell: MLB Jon Beason will likely opt to have surgery on his ailing foot and miss the rest of the season. The front seven has to step up and do a better job now that the secondary has taken on some losses due to injuries.
Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) blocks New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) in the game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat New York 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys big three of QB Tony Romo, RB DeMarco Murray and WR Dez Bryant are difficult to stop and practically impossible to completely contain. The Giants hung in for as long as they could, but they simply don't have the speed or depth on defense to go to-to-toe with Dallas. Right now, few teams do.
Quintin Demps was brought in to add to the already strong safety group of Will Hill, Stevie Brown and Antrel Rolle on the roster. They were set.
But things don't always work out they way they're planned. Hill got busted and suspended again, leading to his release. Hosley was suspended for violating the league's PED policy and suspended the first four games. Thurmond tore a pec muscle in Week 2 and was lost for the season. This week, McBride sustained a thumb injury, ending his season and DRC is dealing with multiple leg ailments that threaten to keep him out of this week's game in Dallas.
The objective going into this game was to keep the Eagles under their average of 31.2 points per game. Considering they did that, won the turnover battle (2-1), held the Eagles to just 4-13 in the red zone and kept Nick Foles to a 79.0 QBR, they should have been in this game, or even won it, had the offense not completely imploded.
With the offense on the verge of coming together, the defense and special teams are coming under more scrutiny.
After getting torched in Week 1 by the Lions, the Giants' defense has stiffened up, allowing just 10 first half points the past two games. In the second half of those games, however, the defense looked tired, yielding big plays, keeping the opponent alive.
Those days are history. The Giants' pass rush is just a shell of what it was just a few years ago. Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are all gone. The heir apparents, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka are both struggling to keep their NFL careers afloat and the Giants have wised-up by fortifying the back end of their defense to compensate.
The Giants will be testing out their new offense this summer vs five opponents in preseason, but the one defense that will see it the most is their own.?DC Perry Fewell was asked his impression of new OC Ben McAdoo's strategy a few weeks ago at minicamp.
"We love it," said Fewell. "It?s definitely up-tempo. It?s multiple personnel groups and he tries to get the ball to all of the different weapons that he has an opportunity to get them to. It was always difficult to defend when we played against him and it?s still going to be difficult to defend, I think, once the players react and still think. So we?re very excited about it. We love it as a defensive staff."
This year, Big?Blue is on the following end. After watching how the Seattle Seahawks wagged the dog by featuring their defensive backs as a strength, the Giants went into overdrive in the draft and the free agent market to bolster their sagging cornerback unit.
They cut ties with Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster and brought in several veteran CBs via free agency (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond III and Zack Bowman), drafted Bennett Jackson out of Notre Dame and recommitted to Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride.
Throughout their history, the Giants' championship formula consisted of a strong pass rush. Since they last appeared in the postseason in 2011 , winning Super Bowl XLVI, the Big Blue has had anything but a wrecking crew up front on defense. They have not gotten consistent pressure on the QB off the edge as they would have liked.
Jason Pierre-Paul, once a dominating force, has been felled by a bad back and shoulder. He's had a difficult time as has another former first-round pick, Mathias Kiwanuka. Both have posted lukewarm numbers the past two seasons.
Giants GM Jerry Reese had an extensive to-do list this offseason and one of the areas he focused on was the defensive backfield. In free agency, he signed veteran CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman and up-and-coming slot corner Walter Thurmond III fresh off the Super Bowl-winning roster of the Seattle Seahawks.
Resse also re-signed CB Trumaine McBride and exercised Prince Amukamara's fifth-year option. In the draft, he added S Nat Berhe, CB Bennett Jackson and several others, most notably Michigan's Thomas Gordon, after the draft.
Cullen Jenkins (starter), Markus Kuhn, Jonathan Hankins, Mike Patterson. Only four with the addition of Patterson this week.? Jenkins is still a top tackle, Patterson was a space-eater last year and the Giants are expecting positive things from Hankins and Kuhn. They will not deter them from adding another player or two before camp. One could certainly be Pitt's Aaron Donald, who the Giants would be fortunate to get their hands on in the draft.
It has been a rollercoaster season for the New York Giants defense. From a time when they were the laughing stock of the league as they rattled off six straight losses to start the season, to the turnaround that kept them in contention in the NFC East.
With a struggling offense that has had a hard time putting points on the board, the Giants defense has been the deciding factor in a majority of games and as of late, they have been the only bright spot of the this New York Giants team, but?that brightness was dimmed and shut off completely yesterday.
Tom Coughlin told reporters yesterday not to expect JPP "to do anything tomorrow."
JPP's absence will open the door for rookie Damontre Moore to get more playing time. Last week in Washington, Moore got in 17 defensive snaps while Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka were on the field the entire game.
Over the past nine games, the Giants have been stingy against the run: 53.4 yards per game, 3.3 yards per carry and only three TDs. And they've done it against some of the top RBs in the league...
Week 4 - Jamaal Charles, Kansas City: 65 yards (3.6 avg) 0 TD
Football is football. On of the primary goals is to get the guy with the ball. Jon Beason, the MLB the Giants acquired from the Carolina Panthers on Oct 4, is very good at getting the guy with the ball.
He is also a leader, vocal and otherwise. He gets the defense lined up and in position to make plays. He is physical as well as cerebral. The Giants got a real gift from old friend Dave Gettlemen, the former Giants' executive who is now the GM in Carolina.
The Giants have just five sacks in the first six games. The Giants. I recall Osi Umenyiora sacking Donovan McNabb six times in one game and the Giants taking Jay Cutler down nine times in one half.
What's happened to the pass rush? DE Justin Tuck tried to explain the frustration and the process his group is going through these days...
He was asked today what he believes his role on the defense is these days.
"Like I said, I don?t know what the role is but I?m prepared for any time they call me," Ross said. "Prince went down in the Dallas game and they called my number and I was ready and prepared to go in and help the team try to make plays. If my number?s not called, I will be the supporting cast and if it?s called, I?ll be ready to go out there and ball."
"No, of course not.? How could it be?" the coach quipped. "We didn?t sack the guy the other day.? We?re better than that.? When we do get there we have to get them in our grasp.? We had two or three times the other day where we had the quarterback in our grasp and didn?t quite get it done."
The reasons? Well, they're many. Osi Umenyiora, one of the franchise's top all-time pass rushers, took his skills to Atlanta. Jason Pierre-Paul (right) is still recovering from offseason back surgery. Justin Tuck is trying to rebound from back-to-back down seasons. Mathias Kiwanuka is still acclimating back to the DE rotation after serving several years as an OLB.
Giants' DC Perry Fewell is obviously not pleased with his unit's low ranking (31st overall) last season but he feels the team has made the changes to improve on that greatly this year.
Fewell attributes the turnaround to "bigger butts" on the line, the health of JPP and the emergence of Prince Amukamara. He spoke about the state of the defense with reporters yesterday...
The Giants released their 53 man roster. The cuts that got more attention for the GMen were David Carr and Marvin Austin.
Word from Mike Garafolo, via twitter, was that the Giants were trying to make a trade for Austin before they would cut him. Obviously no one was interested. When you have to cut your #2 pick from two years ago, it is never good. There is a lot of pride that goeth before the fall.
?Why doesn?t this team draft a linebacker??
That is a familiar refrain every Giants? fan says every April, when New York Giants? General Manager Jerry Reese often bypasses on drafting linebackers. Instead, Reese follows the mantra of picking the best player available.
The Giants' defense is an open book right now. DC Perry Fewell was out on the patio at Quest yesterday telling reporters he's got competition at every position. Throw in players coming back from - and going down to - injuries and you're looking at an amorphous group of bodies attempting to converge to form a cohesive unit three weeks from opening day...
Training camp is only a few days away and although Giant fans are stoked, I must ask this simple question: what did they do to get better on defense over the offseason?
To answer this, you must outline the areas that prevented them from succeeding in 2012.
This year, they will be relying on one of three players to wear the headset:
Mark Herzlich, whose well-documented battle back from cancer makes him a sentimental favorite.
Okay, so the Giants haven't spent any high draft picks on linebackers in recent years. That has led to the notion that they have little, or second-rate talent in the middle level of their defense, which is a fair assessment. But the team is confident they have plenty of talent in-house now to get the job done.
If you look closely at the linebacker unit you will find: two top-ten overall draft picks (Aaron Curry and Keith Rivers) and two others that were first-team All-Americans - one who was an ACC Defensive Player of the Year (Mark Herzlich) and the other a Bednarik Award recipient (Dan Connor).
Yesterday, Sam reported on the D-line's new faces and the plan to seal up the interior of the line. (READ) Everyone was involved yesterday with the exception of second-year DT Markus Kuhn, who is still rehabbing a knee.
The linebackers have a new look, too. Jacquain Williams (knee), is finally expected to start on the outside. He only worked individual drill yesterday and did not participate in team drills. He says he's taking it slow and is still not quite 100%. No need to rush.
Today's game is played in front of ?- and behind - the linebackers. The Giants have been getting away from their base defense (4-3-4) in recent years, employing either a nickel (4-2-5) or a dime (4-1-6) package on approximately 50% of the defensive snaps. This is primarily to guard against the new age passing attacks of the league. In the team's final game of the season vs the Eagles last year, only two LBs were on the field for more than half the snaps: Chase Blackburn (73%) and Jacquian Williams (71%) - who happen to be the unit's top two pass defenders.
Granted, the game was a blowout, with the Eagles in passing mode most of the game (37 pass to 27 run plays), but that means little. When the shoe was on the other foot in Week 10 against Cincinnati, only Michael Boley (100%) and Blackburn (92%) played more than half the snaps.
I?ve been on some pretty good run defenses in my time in the league. I think I?ve even been on a number one ranked defense back in the day. It?s just something to prove being able to play whether it?s inside or outside. Help out wherever. It?s a system that I?m familiar with, with Coach Nunn and some of the things we used to do back at Green Bay. I?m just excited to get out there and be able to contribute."
- 31st in yards, 383.4 yards per game.
- 31st in yards per play, 6.0.
- 30th in 3rd down conversions, 42%.
- 25th in rush yards, 129.1.
- 28th in yards per carry, 4.6.
- 28th in pass yards, 254.2.
- 31st in yards per pass attempt, 8.1.
And still, despite those numbers, the Giants only gave up 21.5 points per game, which tied them for 12th in the NFL with the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. Why? Because they were able to force 35 turnovers, which was good for 3rd in the NFL, and they only allowed TDs on 46% of opponents? trips into the red zone, which was good for 4th in the NFL.
It is expected that free agent Osi Umenyiora will not return to the Giants, so the team is planning to compensate by using its remaining pass rushers differently. Instead of playing a rotation in which three men split the snaps pretty evenly as the Giants did last year, I?m told Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck will get the majority of the snaps. And Giants coaches don?t want the ends flipping sides as much. The early talk out of the Timex Performance Center is Pierre Paul may become a full-time left end, with Tuck concentrating on the right side.He's probably correct in the sense those two will see the lion's share of the snaps in 2013. But that depends on if Tuck returns to form. He's had two down seasons in row and he needs to turn his game around for Pompei's assessment to come to fruition.
By moving JPP to the left side, he will draw right tackles, not the more pass-blocking savvy left tackles of the league. That solves one problem. His numbers should rebound. But Tuck. the Giants' defensive captain, is the variable in this equation. What happens if he continues to decline?
It was understood at the beginning of the free agency period that began Tuesday afternoon that many of the top-tier CBs would get gobbled up in the first few hours. It's Thursday morning and only three of Rotoworld's top 12 corners have been signed to contracts:
They can't stop the run and they can't stop the pass. Enough said. They need better players at almost every position except DE, and they can probably use some help there, too.....from Jimmy:
The Giants? defense was such an oddity in 2012. Yardage wise, they were a mess, but they survived because of good red zone defense and their knack for creating turnovers. A look at 2012, by the numbers:
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2013 Mock Draft V:1
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Most of those changes figure to be on defense. LB Michael Boley is a prime candidate for either a pay cut or an outright release. From Rotoworld.com:
Due $4.25 million in 2013, Boley was benched for the final three games of the season, playing just 73 snaps after Week 14. The G-Men will surely ask Boley to slash his salary, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old veteran may be better off refusing and earning his release so he can test the open market. Either way, Boley is unlikely to enter 2013 with a starting job.
?I feel like they?ve got a lot of holes in their defense....Their front four, they get so much pressure on the quarterback. A lot of people don?t have that much time to get the big plays on them.?
Nothing wrong with the young man's eyesight. The Giants are a kill-or-be-killed defense. If they don't get to the QB, as Bill Chadwick would say: "Katy, bar the door!" It's no mistake their games resemble a Hearns-Hagler fight. Haymaker city. If their offense whiffs on few, they get hammered by the media. The defense keeps getting a pass.
If it weren't for their takeaway ability, this defense would be getting run right out of stadiums. They have a +13 turnover ratio, tied with New England for the most in the league. ?They should be 6-2 with a stat like that. Oh, wait - they are....but there are some real holes in this team that are worrying fans. The team's biggest problem the past few years has been leaving large swaths of unattended real estate in their back seven in the middle of games so teams can come back. This week, it almost sunk them again.